I Went To The Mall Today

As some of you probably know, Florida has been re-opened since May 4. For the internationals reading, you should know our state governor Ron DeSantis is fully Trumpian. One of his talking points when asked about Florida’s half-million Coronavirus cases is the increase of testing. He’s been seen at press conferences wearing his mask incorrectly and touching his face repeatedly while urging constituents not to so he’s not exactly an example of reasonable leadership during a pandemic.

He does, however, understand that Florida’s economy relies on tourism. This means our survival is dependent on keeping the lights on and we peaked at 15,300 new Coronavirus cases on July 12. Florida’s reporting system has also been riddled with controversy so it’s likely the figures are completely off, but I digress.

Given these political circumstances, the local culture here is proceeding with life as it formerly existed simply with masks, disinfectant spray, and utmost caution.

I don’t really have much incredulity to lend to this fact because I still see Trump lawn signs on my local runs. I am cautiously optimistic about the Biden/Harris ticket but we can all agree we are so far from ideal or agreeable circumstances in any case.

So it goes.

With this in mind, I’ve been trying to find creative ways to make outings that provide some break to the tedium of post-COVID living while keeping myself and others safe.

My office has announced we should expect to be remote until 2021.

Roy and his colleagues have a also been working from home. We have made a comfortable routine, but at times we can feel the space in our home shrinks the longer we exist in it. I can only imagine the severity with which friends in New York City felt this at the peak of the pandemic’s crest-wave in the city.

After editing 90 pages of copy today, I spontaneously drove to Millennia Mall. This is the ritziest shopping area in Orlando as it’s a mid-level to high-end mall. You can find H&M, a Johnny Rockets, and Chanel within walking distance of one another. What’s not to love?

I figured I’d distract myself from the state of the world with some window-shopping while fulfilling my quarterly visit to the only Lush store in the tri-county area.

I’d also been eyeing a few shirts at PacSun and thought I’d go see them in person since it’s been years since I bought anything from the store. My hopes for purchasing these YG and Matisse tops were abandoned when I learned Millennia Mall does not have a PacSun.

Upon giving up my search for cool graphic tees for the summer, I began wandering into old store favorites and new curiosities.

Each brand varied vastly in their post-Coronavirus approach to welcoming customers back. Some had promotional safety guidelines.

Others felt like clubs with employees monitoring the entrance like bouncers for capacity. The doorman at Sephora asked me if I’d been in since they changed things and once I confirmed I had not, he instructed me not to touch the testers.

At some point, I wandered into Hollister. I don’t know what I was expecting but everything was marketed towards Gen-Z and I felt distinctly aged out. I was hit by the nostalgia of British chavs in high school wearing Hollister sweatpants to school to lazily emphasize their wealth.

Even their sweatpants cost $45.

I could never afford anything in there as a teenager but I distinctly remember falling in love with a low-rise pair at $78 jeans and by the time I’d saved enough money slinging açaí bowls at the local Planet Smoothie to buy them, I never found them again.

The most shocking difference I found had to be the Apple store which has historically been their busiest location for sales in Central Florida. All products were stored, two letter-size sheets were taped on the doors explaining their absence on the doors and I wondered what the company’s pandemic compensation policies must be.

While I expected each store to emphasize safety and caution, I did not expect to see many stores closed due to limited hours. There were also an unusual amount of sales. You got the sense stores were doing everything to push seasonal merch out the door. I’ve even seen holiday decor in retail stores lately so it makes sense that brands are retiring Summer capsules to make room for Fall and Winter.

I briefly wandered into Banana Republic where a 19 or 20-year-old girl greeted me at the door. I thought of my summer spent with an aunt in New Rochelle where I was the teenager working at the White Plains Banana Republic location taking advantage of my employee discount to build a proper professional wardrobe.

How things have changed in the decade since.

I witnessed every age group and every demographic shopping, everyone I saw wore their masks correctly. And honestly, the mall felt far less populated than it usually is on a Thursday afternoon which I actually preferred. Meanwhile, I was surprised to find that the syrupy prompts from associates to assist you as soon as you cross the threshold of their store had not relented.

I was the only customer at White House Black Market where I tried on this gingham print midi dress which fit like a dream. I wondered where I would wear it to and settled on a pair of two-tone mules instead.

I also bought a wedding reception dress not featured here. For a party that may not happen this year as planned but the next.

In any case, joy is not to be made a crumb.

Revisiting The Weekend

Hello friends,

I hope the beginning of this week finds you healthy and happy.

I have been fighting a headache over the weekend that simply will not quit. I went so far as to Google “prolonged headache covid” but the search results tell me I should probably just take an Advil and hydrate.

Roy and I took belated engagement photos yesterday morning. We started at 8am and just 45 minutes later we had to pack it up thanks to the humidity but despite the heat and some natural awkwardness, our photographer captured several sweet moments.

You are invited to match the enthusiasm of our mommas by enjoying the pictures below. I am going to put an ice pack on my head and pretend I’m still enjoying a morning stroll across a beautiful park.

In reality, I’ll be on conference calls.

Such is life!

Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.

Emily Brontë

A Weekend With Beyoncé and Blueberry Pancakes

Beyonce screen shot from Black is King
Black is King, Disney

Hey friends,

What are you watching this weekend?

I’m currently streaming Black is King, Disney’s cinematic collaboration with Beyoncé. I’ll start off by saying if Beyoncé is not already very much your thing, you won’t enjoy it. Because it’s essentially an extended Beyoncé music video with a very loose Lion King narrative.

I liked it in the general sense because I like Beyoncé. But I’m not sure if I would call it a conceptual success. The official description reads, “The film reimagines the lessons from the 2019 blockbuster for today’s young kings and queens in search of their own crowns.” The themes explored are more mature in nature and a few scenes might be potentially frightening for younger audiences.

If you’re interested in checking it out, I’d suggest having it on in the background while cleaning or doing laundry but it’s not something you need to sit and watch.

Another album I’ll suggest for your rotation is Taylor Swift’s folklore which I’ve been listening to on repeat since it’s release last week.

Taylor’s latest album is an extremely refreshing departure from the stuff she’s produced over recent years. My favorite Swift album has always been Red and musically, folklore is Red’s understated sister. The remote collaboration between her, Bon Iver and The National’s Aaron Dessner on this album also brought a return to her signature emotive chords and evokes a certain seclusion distinctive of the world it was created in. It’s indulgent.

And here’s my favorite statement on the matter —

There’s also something distinctly nostalgic about a Taylor Swift release given they’ve historically aligned with the beginning of Fall. Although we’re still several weeks out, I’m already excited for it. I’ve also changed my nail color from a summery pink to metallic brown. I’m not kidding around. Although the temperature change in Orlando is insignificant, there’s definitely a shift in the rhythm of everyone’s pace and the seasonal offerings alone are worth daydreaming about. I’m not like, ordering pumpkin spice syrup but I’m ready to make apple pies.

Speaking of, I made blueberry pancakes this morning. They came out more like crepes. I would try a different recipe next time but I highly recommend integrating homemade pancakes into one of your weekends this month.

Image provided by Ala

Although we’ve casually seen immediate family on the occasional basis, we are otherwise staying in and avoiding social gatherings.

These days, a trip to the dog park and ordering take-out after could be the highlight of our week.

But it’s really not so bad that way.

Riyah, August 2020

Sean Feucht Is Killing People

Hi friends,

It appears this corner of the internet is getting more activity than usual. In fact, we had 7,000 new visitors last month alone.

I wish I could believe this is because of my individual charm and command of language. However, the stats suggest that it’s because of the vacuum of information documenting Sean Feucht’s antics. Of which there have been many more since we last spoke on the matter.

It appears that since Feucht’s vulture-like co-opting of the Black Lives Matter momentum in St. Louis, he’s returned to the West Coast to feign persecution by way of public health ordinance.

I find his whole thing glaringly misguided.

He would just be a nuisance to be ignored if he weren’t so exceptionally harmful. His example of defiance is one of ignorance and it mobilizes the followers who subscribe to this entitled hyper-partisan brand of Christian faith.

They will elevate Sean Feucht as a mini-messiah leading them to deliverance from poorly-paid retail employees that are just trying to follow policy and the governors that would rather their constituents not die.

NBC reports that Sean Feucht was the frontman behind Sunday’s revival-like Let Us Worship event which drew approximately 5,000 people to the beach for a concert amidst a pandemic.

Image of crowd at Sean Feucht's worship event, hands raised, no masks
Image from Sean Feucht’s Let Us Worship event

When asked about the man behind these gatherings, the Northern California musician and worship leader responded, “I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about somebody, and that’s Jesus. “

The thing is, I don’t buy it.

And I’m making that assumption from what I’ve heard from the other side of this horse’s mouth. Just take a look at his bio. It reeks of a man desperate to be seen.

Someone tell him he needs a comma after author.

And aren’t we all longing to be seen?

Perhaps not as the leader of a movement but by a parent, a lover, a friend, a holy God in the midst of our pain and struggle?

It depresses me to no end that Sean Feucht’s purpose behind these gatherings showcases an unwillingness to see or his neighbor.

California has reported 8,517 deaths as a result of Covid-19 and 477k confirmed cases impacting a disproportionate amount of Black and Latino communities.

Regardless of such, Feucht is taking his sideshow to Portland next month to “change the narrative” after weeks of protests and riots.

Do you see what he’s doing here? He’s essentially the worship-equivalent of an ambulance chaser.

Instead of assuring the Church that Christ is in the room with us when we pray or worship privately in our bedrooms, he’s boasting about the amount of bodies he got to come out to sing on the beach. He’s insisting his followers “hold the line” while the rest of humanity bleeds out.

We don’t have time for persecution theatrics.

Unfortunately, provocateurs of Feucht’s variety believe there’s no such this as bad press. If they’re getting “persecuted” (lol) by bloggers or the mainstream media, they enter the fantasy of a martyr.

Instead, please join me in muting the man altogether.